Juan Pablo Montoya has praised the Porsche 919 Hybrid after getting his first laps in the LMP1 contender, although ruling out any immediate plans to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans or a career shift to the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner was invited by the German manufacturer to take part in Sunday’s WEC Rookie Test in Bahrain, with Montoya piloting the same 919 Hybrid that Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley took to the World Drivers’ Championship on Saturday evening.
“The car is amazing to drive,” Montoya said after getting his first laps in the morning session. “That’s probably the best way to describe it for me.
“I’ve driven all kinds of cars and it’s a lot of fun. It’s got a lot of power, it’s really, really stable. It’s actually really easy to over-drive.
“It’s so predictable that it just invites you to hustle the hell out of it. That’s been the biggest thing for me so far. I need to figure out that balance of driving it fast and over-driving the car.
“It’s shocking because it’s so good that it’s actually in a way kind of easy. But it’s really easy to go over.”
While treated as a one-0ff test, Montoya arrived at Bahrain International Circuit on Tuesday to soak up the atmosphere and learn the inner-workings of the Porsche Team.
He also completed a simulator session last month, which helped him prepare for the 919 Hybrid’s hybrid system. However, Montoya admitted it wasn’t as complex as he imagined it’d be.
“It was kind of shocking when they showed me a 30-page manual to drive the car,” he said. “That was a first.
“I remember at McLaren, they sent me a big page with the [steering wheel] buttons. They had letters from A to L and you had to remember which letter was what because they didn’t want people knowing what we were doing.
“But with [the Porsche 919 Hybrid], it works very well. The car is very good and responds to changes very good.
“For me to be here, it’s more about enjoying the car than anything else. The idea is to go out there and have fun with it, and the [drive the] hell out of it.”
Montoya has downplayed the prospects of this test leading to his Le Mans debut, with his focus remaining with Team Penske in IndyCar next year.
With victories in the Indy 500 and Monaco Grand Prix, the 40-year-old Colombian holds the distinct possibility of completing the “triple crown” of motorsport wins.
“To be honest, I’m really happy with IndyCar where I am with the team and everything,” he said.
“To go to Le Mans, we haven’t even talked about it. I think a lot of people assumed that because I was doing the test we’d do Le Mans. But there’s not even talk of it right now.
“At some point I think it would be cool to do. I’ve raced everything. For a guy that’s done everything I think it would be a cool experience. But if you want to win Le Mans you have to be in a car like this.
“I’m not really interested in doing Le Mans in a GT or small car. Not really. There’s really no ambition for me there at all.
“With this, I think it would be cool to have the whole experience and be in the fast cars.
“But at this point today, I would be lying to you if I told you I had any idea [when I could race at Le Mans].”
Montoya, however, wouldn’t rule out a switch to WEC racing full-time, should an opportunity present itself in the future once his IndyCar career is over.
“I don’t know, if they wanted me maybe,” he said. “It’s one thing that you want and another thing that you have.
“You ask anybody what they want to be doing and 90 percent would say Formula One and the other 10 percent would say [WEC].
“I’m really happy in IndyCar right now but at some point if this would be available in the future, it’s something you could look at.”
For now, it’s clear Montoya said he’s focused on doing what he enjoys the most, in whatever car that may be.
“If I didn’t have ambition, I wouldn’t be driving,” he said. “At this point in my career, I do it because I love it.
“I don’t need to be racing. I just love racing and I like to win and I want to beat the hell out of everybody. It’s simple.”